The Sound of One Hand Slapping -- the Head

Thursday, October 13, 2005

If an avant-garde musician falls in a club and there's almost nobody there to hear him, does he still make a sound? Surely, and he likely recorded the tumble and gave it a song title, too.

The four experimental electronic bands that played DC9 on Tuesday didn't have much of an audience -- maybe 20 people total -- but they made one helluva racket anyway. Opening act RDK -- Davis White with a small keyboard, computer and effects -- conjured early '70s Tangerine Dream on his first number and the modern classical melodies of Samuel Barber on his second. He concluded his short set by saying he would be playing at the Montgomery College planetarium next month, "which is probably a better venue for this type of music -- no offense to DC9." None taken, because he's right.

The next band, Projexorcism, would have thrived in a planetarium, though the duo led by Ed Cooper did just fine in the small bar. Cooper used four projectors to broadcast various 16mm films on a big white sheet that intersected the club. Two camcorders captured the images, fed them into an electronic device for some scrambling and rebroadcast them on the screen. All the while ambient squiggles and a language-lesson recording provided the soundtrack, with the words on the screen syncing with the 1950s-sounding teaching tool. Fascinating stuff.

Violet -- aka Jeff Surak -- didn't provide any visuals save for three small candles and a loud patterned shirt, but he did lay on the soundtrack music pretty thick. For about 30 minutes, Surak constructed a wall of noise that relied on harmonics and overtones to provide the majority of the details, along with the occasional electronic chirp, squeal and thump.

The evening's headliner was the most perplexing. LoVid (Tali Hinkis and Kyle Lapidus) sat in a bar booth with an array of homemade or modified electronic controllers piled in front of them and spent 10 minutes remixing TV static and test patterns. That was it. Set over. Thank goodness.

-- Christopher Porter

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